Black Caps have Southee concern

20 December 2012 04:55:25 EST

Tim Southee is struggling to make New Zealand's three-match Twenty20 campaign against England at the start of February because of a hand injury.

Black Caps fast bowler Southee has been ruled out of the current tour of South Africa and is set to be sidelined for between six and eight weeks.

The 24-year-old, who has been tipped to be his country's vice-captain in Test cricket, suffered damage to his thumb while fielding during a Plunket Shield match between Northern Knights and Wellington Firebirds.

"Tim Southee has unfortunately been ruled out of the Test series against South Africa," said New Zealand physio Paul Close. "He landed heavily on his thumb while fielding, with scans indicating the ligament has fully ruptured and retracted.

"After consultation with New Zealand Cricket medical staff and a hand specialist it was decided the best course of action is for him to have surgery.

"He will commence rehabilitation immediately following the procedure, with a view to him returning to cricket during the home summer. The procedure is likely to keep him out of the game for six to eight weeks."

New Zealand, already without ex-captain Ross Taylor for the two Tests in South Africa after he withdrew his services following his removal as leader, have also lost pace bowlers Adam Milne and Mark Gillespie from their Twenty20 squad to face the Proteas in three matches over the next week.

The series, from which South Africa captain AB de Villiers will be absent, begins in Durban on Friday with the hosts 1/66 to win it while New Zealand can be backed at 11/1.

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